Oregon is on its way to being the first state to make shrooms legal.
You heard that right: magic mushrooms, the drug known to trigger visual hallucinations, may be legalized in Oregon in the upcoming year.
The ballot title for the Psilocybin Service Initiative — which would legalize shrooms — was recently certified, which means supporters of the initiative can start collecting signatures to get it on the ballot for 2020.
What Does That Actually Mean?
The 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon (PSI 2020) would essentially make shrooms legal in the state. However, that doesn’t mean psychedelic mushrooms will be legal for everyone at all times in any circumstance.
The initiative will make shrooms legal for the purpose of psilocybin assisted therapy in supervised, licensed facilities.
Highlights of the measure include:
- A science-based therapeutic modality including preparation, facilitation, and integration
- Independent licenses for facilitators, service center operators, and producers of psilocybin mushrooms and products
- Safety, practice, and ethical standards for trained and competent facilitators
- No home use, no driving while altered, no retail psilocybin
- Limits on business entities — no big chains, no big manufacturers
Closer Look: “Shroom Therapy”
Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is the substance that triggers hallucinations. Some individual cities have already decriminalized psilocybin, but it remains a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. That means the government has deemed the drug to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.
However, research suggests that psilocybin can actually be used to treat some mental disorders. The method is known as psilocybin assisted therapy, colloquially called “shroom therapy.”
With psilocybin assisted therapy, licensed therapists administer a predetermined dose of psilocybin to a patient during a supervised therapy session. Medical use of psilocybin has been shown to slow overactive brain functioning while also increasing flexibility and fluidity in areas of the brain that involve fear, relaxation, and memory.
Sheri and Thomas Eckert are the chief petitioners for PSI 2020. The couple, who are also therapists, state that they believe psilocybin assisted therapy could help people struggling with a variety of conditions, from depression and anxiety to addiction.
Thomas Eckert explains,
“Where typical pharma-type interventions fall short, psilocybin is really breaking through with pretty amazing frequency.”
Taking A Cue From Portugal
Legalizing shrooms for psilocybin therapy isn’t the only major drug reform ballot measure on Oregon’s agenda. The 2020 Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (DATRA) is also on its way to the ballot. The bill takes its cue from drug policy reform in Portugal.
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs. Funding also shifted from law enforcement to addiction treatment programs. While Portugal’s drug reform was met with overwhelming scrutiny, the country’s rates of problem drug use, overdose deaths, drug-related crime, and HIV and hepatitis infection plummeted.
Oregon is hoping to pioneer similar results in the U.S. with DATRA.
Is Making Shrooms Legal a Good Idea?
Those against the PSI 2020 measure typically back their opposition with the negative side effects of shrooms, which include nausea, paranoia, and anxiety. However, researchers explain that these side effects have not been present in their psilocybin studies, as the dosage is low and the session is well-supervised.
Side effects and specifics aside, using a Schedule I drug to treat serious mental and emotional conditions is also a jarring concept for the general public to grasp — as noted from the recent MDMA and alcoholism trial.
PSI 2020 pioneers believe that making shrooms legal for psilocybin assisted therapy is the template that Oregon and the country as a whole need to make innovative, successful advances in health care treatment practices.
The Eckerts and fellow Psilocybin Service Initiative supporters have until July 2, 2020 to get enough signatures for the measure to end up on the November 2020 ballot.